No matter how you look at it, pet care is a booming business. Spending on pet care has grown around 5% year-to-year for the past 20 years, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth in pet care at 11% each year until at least 2024. What can you do to ensure your clinic is part of this growth?
Where is the Growth?
America has 300 million pets in over 80 million households, or about 65% of all homes. The purchase of pets has gone down slightly, while the adoption of shelter animals has skyrocketed: from 2011 to 2017, the ASPCA estimates that adoptions have increased 18.5% while the number of animals in shelters has decreased by 10%.
While pets are popular, owners aren’t all spending the same amount on their animals: high income families represent 60% of pet spending.
Trends in Pet Ownership
Pets are like people: The way people perceive pets is changing, going from ownership to partnership with terms like “pet parent” and “pet guardian” replacing “pet owner.” Outdoor pets are being replaced by indoor animals that live alongside their owners, and there’s an increasing interest in animal well-being. This is a major driver behind other trends in pet ownership.
Small dogs are in: Dog ownership is down slightly, but there has been a major shift toward smaller dogs that can be kept indoors.
Moving up market: This increased concern and acceptance of pets as family members is driving pet products up-market. New growth is concentrated in high end pet brands for everything from clothing to food. For some owners it’s a way to show off: Fido might not know he’s wearing a designer sweater, but his owner does. For other owners, it’s part of how they care for their pet. If they’re eating food that is less processed for their health, they think their pets should, too. Likewise, they want to be sure the toys they give their pets are safe.
Obesity: Over half of cats and dogs are obese, leading to sales of diet pet foods to increase by 20% in the last 5 years.
Technology: Pet apps are seeing a major boom, letting owners get information on first aid, track health and keep an eye on their pets using cameras.
Who is Leading the Pet Market Boom?
Baby Boomers are turning to pets as a way to avoid empty nest syndrome. While overall spending goes down for people over 55 years old, pet spending is one of the few areas that goes up.
Birth rates for women in their teens, twenties and thirties are at record lows, leading to a nationwide birth rate that’s lower than it was 30 years ago. Millenials are more career-focused than their parents and are facing higher real estate and education costs, so they’re turning to pets as a way to have the experience of a family while they save up to have children. Of all groups, these owners are the most likely to prioritize high quality pet care.
Pets are increasingly being used as an aid for both mental and physical health, driving an increase in ownership across all ages.
Getting in on Growth
Growth is shifting away from big name chains to specialty stores as owners seek out better pet food, toys and services like grooming and training. Internet sales of specialty items is growing in popularity, but overall, buyers are relying on a combination of online and brick and mortar shopping. This provides a great opportunity for veterinary clinics to expand their business by bringing these products and services in-house:
- Partnering with providers of services including grooming and training
- Offering specialty brands of toys along with a larger selection of food to deal with dietary needs.
- Adding more technology to connect with your patients. This can include anything from scheduling apps to online cameras that let them check up on their pet while being boarded at your clinic.
Positive Impressions Can Help You Make Visits Feel Special
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